akratic's ERE journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Tyler9000
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:43 pm

akratic wrote: PS: Unless I'm going crazy you edited out your question about an update on my job search in the time it took me to write all this crap, but I guess I'm going to leave it for now.
My bad. I thought it might be too personal so I temporarily removed it (it's back now). Based on your response, I'm glad I asked!

That's a lot of BS you're dealing with, and I admire how proactive you've been about trying to do right even by people who may not deserve it. Frankly, if I was in your situation I'd have a really tough time thinking clearly about much of anything, much less trying to identify a job that sounds appealing.

Take your time. You've earned it.
Last edited by Tyler9000 on Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:52 pm

No worries, my journal is a good place to get personal. It's cathartic to get some of this stuff out.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by UrbanHermit » Sun Aug 21, 2016 9:50 pm

Your bit about the conversation between 20s and 30s acratic has got me wondering... now that you're back from vagabonding and pondering a return to work or academia, what advice would you have given the younger you actively planning his exit? Is there anything you would have done differently before or during your adventure (duration, focus, activities) to better prepare yourself? Maybe you would advise yourself not to go at all and focus on figuring out how what you really want from life, or maybe it was completely worth it and you have no regrets?

I promise I'm not just seeking an excuse for why I can't do it myself ;). More like considering taking a sabbatical when my current position winds down, but concerned I'll wind up where you seem to be (ready for a new project, tired of travelling, reluctant to re-enter the corporate grind but not driven to be an entrepreneur). Any thoughts on how to mitigate the re-entry pain?

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Noedig » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:48 am

I like the Akratic app icon of the fat guy with the hamburger: nice!

Re Gaming addiction: I have similar problem, but I tend to time out gaming after two hours and go tackle a task list somewhere, so it's under control.

You've got a lot to deal with at the moment. Best of luck with all that, hope you navigate to a more stable situation, and don't get stressed out.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by FBeyer » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:21 am

akratic wrote:...

Coming back to the job hunt question, I think my true lifestyle preference across all the adult years of my life would be, in order:
1) student at university
2) on an adventure I was excited about
3) 9-5
4) playing video games all day
5) entrepreneurship

This makes me think I should get a PhD and not a 9-5 at all.
...
I have to be an ass and ask you this then: If you'd really like to study, why aren't you studying now that you have the time rather than play video games "against your will"?

Blaise Pascal wrote:: “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
A friend of mine recently went on the trans siberian railway. Sometimes there would be nothing outside the windows for 8 hours at a time than endless forests. At the end he learned to embrace a few hours of boredom and no-wifi without the itching feeling that he should be doing something with his time rather than just relax.

Can you do that? Should you be able to? Given how FUBAR your existence sounds at the moment ( I went through a terribly stressful May/June) I'll say that I intentionally practised getting better at doing nothing in my 'free time' and benefited greatly from it.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:48 pm

@UrbanHermit, I have no regrets about my adventures and enjoyed them while I was doing them. I even put them #2 on the all time adult lifestyle list. Adventuring is where I met my fiance and solidified my relationship with her, which is the best thing I have going for me. 30s-akratic would tell 20s-akratic to go, and would help 20s-akratic get there faster.

If I seem down on adventuring in general, I don't mean to be, but rather I'm down on adventuring for me for right now. It took me a while to realize this, but in Myers-Briggs speak, I always adventured as an NT and never as an SP. I was always pushing myself just outside my comfort zone, forcing myself to adapt and grow and master each new and slightly more difficult situation. I never cared about the sights or the sensations.

To give a specific example, age 23-akratic hated his own introversion and considered it to be his single biggest obstacle to meeting a great life partner, his #1 goal. 23-akratic knew that all he wanted to do was be in his apartment or with his few close friends and family, and he couldn't stop himself from wanting only these things, but they were not leading to random encounters with new potential life partners. And so 23-akratic bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco where he knew exactly two people but had a place to stay, then later a one-way ticket to Seattle where he knew exactly one person, and then on to Austin where he knew nobody at all and didn't even have a place to sleep, and then after that Sydney Australia (where he actually met his fiance!), and on and on.

This was all new and exciting and interesting! It sped up the rate I could try difficult things and learn about myself. It became boring much later. When I realized I could land in a third world country with an unpronounceable language and no preparation at all and still have everything sorted in a week or two, that's when I knew that travel had lost its luster. For me, though, and only because I had stopped learning.

But I mean, 30s-akratic wouldn't try to explain to 20s-akratic that travel would eventually get too easy. Even if he tried 20s-akratic would just file it away as something 30s-akratic believed that likely had nothing to do with himself. Instead 30s-akratic would just imparts skills like how to make flights and accommodation cheaper, as well as perspective to help make the leap. For example, one perspective that helped me take risks was to consider both the best case scenario and the worst case scenario and then if I could accept the worst case then I might as well pull the trigger. (It's funny to apply that same advice to my recent attempt at entrepreneurship, where I'd say that things turned out worse than the worst case scenario I could have imagined beforehand.)

Anyway, to tie this up, age 33-akratic has a much different understanding of introversion and which parts of it can be changed. I can improve my social skills and sometimes appear extroverted for small bursts of time. But I can't change how I recharge. Can't change it. But my introversion is also a strength, and all that time alone is also the foundation of some of the things I like best about myself and my life. 20s-akratic needed to figure this out on his own and adventuring helped.

Most of the re-entry pain is simply not knowing what I want out of the next five years of my life, which is just a difficult problem in general. The other part is feeling like I've grown even stranger, but I think I can handle that one once I get back on some sort of track.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:51 pm

@Noedig, thanks for checking out the Akratic app. I wish I could time myself out naturally after two hours. Like if that skill was for sale in some futuristic real-life RPG shop for $100k I'd pull the trigger without hesitation. I'd also spend another $100k on "ability to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night". And then I'd know what to do with the next few years even: go earn back the $200k.

I've been delinquent in updating the Akratic blog but I learned a lot from that first working prototype. It did successfully lock down the fun parts of the internet and dole them out a few hours a day. I even started flossing every day just to get more internet time. But I had this unstated assumption going in that with the internet removed as an all encompassing distraction, I'd then naturally go out and do task lists and stuff that was productive in the long-term. Here's what I did instead: 1) use up every minute of internet the app gave me followed by 2) chain read Hugo winning sci-fi on my kindle.

When I just switched from internet time on the couch to fiction reading on the couch is when I started taking seriously that I might be depressed.

Also that first version of the app was too harsh. When I went to Maine to recuperate a bit I left the Akratic wifi router at home to be free of it. I'm going to make a version two that keeps the best parts of the original but is less of a pain.

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:54 pm

@FBeyer, that's a good question, and I don't take any offense to it. The first part of the answer is that I haven't been able to recreate my favorite parts about being in school on my own. It wasn't just learning that I liked but:
1) being surrounded by smart people who had lots of free time
2) having this simplified set of tasks -- do problem sets, write papers, ace tests, get internships -- and an objective and simple scoring mechanism for them regulated by someone else: A, B, C, D, F. I loved optimizing this game, writing the best paper in the shortest amount of time or learning the material extremely well but extremely quickly and thus freeing up the rest of my time for whatever I wanted.
3) believing that what I was doing was working towards a better future for myself. That if I just succeeded in jumping through these hoops my life would get better.
4) living in the same shitty dorm rooms as everyone else. After graduating when some of my friends started trading most of their time away to live in fancypants mansions, it became harder to see them because they spent so much time working and even moved cities to get higher salaries, and it became harder to pretend we had a lot in common as they made choices so alien to me.

Now as for another part of your question, the bit about will, let me try an analogy with food.

FBeyer: you say you'd like to eat Chicken and Broccoli, but observe you only eat Ice Cream. You must really prefer Ice Cream.
akratic: you're right, with both of them in front of me I can't help but choose Ice Cream. But if we could just get all the Ice Cream out of the apartment I'd choose Chicken and Broccoli!

Now certainly the short-sighted fat lazy bastard that lives inside of me just wants Ice Cream. But I think there's a real part of me that prefers Chicken and Broccoli, it's just weak.

Part of where this analogy breaks down is food isn't a major problem for me. I may float an extra 10 lbs, but food never becomes a run-away problem for me like some other people. Actually I have good ability to delay gratification in a lot of domains. For example, I could enter a wedding thinking I'd have 3 cocktails, then one beer, and then water for the rest of the night, and easily execute that plan. Or I could put myself in a situation where I have the opportunity to have an affair and know there is a zero percent chance I do so. Or I could put a product I want to buy on a wishlist for a year, decide to only buy it if the product is still on the wishlist one year later, and then wait the full year to make the purchase.

My will is fine for a lot of things, but totally inept in some strange domains like video games and internet use. I could never choose to play or browse for 3 hours and then stop. I just keep going.

===

Regarding the ability to "to sit quietly in a room alone", if I could have books or internet in the room with me I think people would be shocked how long I'd make it. But to answer your actual question without books, without internet, with nothing: I can't do it. You'd have to reach into the deepest parts of my programming and find some fundamental parts of me, like the part that is always striving, always reaching for more, always trying to figure out the next goal, and you'd need to gut these parts. If you succeeded and were truly left with something -- I can't really call this me, it'd be so foreign -- anyway something that was truly happy doing nothing, then I agree that something would pretty much impervious to stress or bad events.

Honestly it just feels like an empty suggestion, like telling someone who is struggling with money issues: "Have you tried just getting infinity dollars? Then you could buy anything you wanted."

Maybe that response is a bit flippant considering this approach has worked for you. That's just how it feels to me though, like it would be practically impossible.
Last edited by akratic on Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:49 pm

akratic wrote: Now certainly the short-sighted fat lazy bastard that lives inside of me just wants Ice Cream. But I think there's a real part of me that prefers Chicken and Broccoli, it's just weak.
I get it.

It's totally possible to objectively know that an activity can bring you great joy but still find it nearly impossible to do it. In my experience, there are at least two factors that feed this. Addiction, and what I'll call Startup Costs.

Addiction is pretty straightforward. You may be legitimately addicted to games or the internet to the detriment of other parts of your life, and some level of detox may be required to think clearly again.

Startup costs are what is required to get going in a new activity before the reward kicks in. For example, maybe you used to be a very active person, but for whatever reason haven't worked out in several years. You remember one day that you love working out so you go for a run, only to very quickly find out that you're way out of shape and running is hard! So you have two choices -- power through the startup costs and get back to the reward zone, or give up and go back to whatever comfortable activity you're already good at.

When you're stressed and need an outlet just to decompress, the notion of doing difficult activities with heavy startup costs with your down time, even if you know for a fact you like how they will eventually make you feel, is often extremely unattractive. So you stick with the tried and true outlet, which ultimately becomes an addiction. You're trapped by your own expertise while other enjoyable aspects of your life atrophy even further. The two factors are self-reinforcing.

Based on my own experience, to break the cycle I'd recommend a multi-step process:

1) Eliminate the biggest stress sources from your life. Maybe that requires paying a social price, and that's ok. Focus on separating yourself from drama, as a stressed mind is often incapable of change.

2) Take the one game you're most addicted to and stop playing it. Cold turkey. It's going to suck short term, but you'll thank yourself later.

3) Schedule time for other activities you know you want to prioritize. Realize that they won't be very fun while you get up to speed, but understand that if you stick with them they'll pay off. And do more than one! Simply displacing one addiction for another will put you back in the same place sooner or later.

Obviously that's just my two-cents. YMMV. Do whatever is required for you to be happy!

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:41 pm

Yeah Tyler9000 that makes sense to me.

I started reading the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous to get more perspective on addiction. There's an early chapter that talks about taking stock of all the people that have been harmed by your addiction, all the people you borrowed money from to get another drink but never paid back, all the people you verbally or physically abused in a drunken rage, whatever. Later you're supposed to try to make things right with everyone on your list. My own list for gaming/internet addiction is remarkably short:
1) fiance - neglected; sometimes feels like I prefer spending time with the computer to spending time with her, and she's right

That's it. No stolen money, no abuse. It's at this point that I realized that maybe I've been wrong to call myself addicted to internet/games. Like when I had a job or schoolwork to do I never failed to do what I had to do because of a game. Owing someone money to feed the gaming habit is unfathomable. If that were to happen I would immediately stop gaming, get enough money to pay the person back, and only game again after it was resolved.

A more accurate way to describe my problem might be: I'm incredibly single-minded in how I want to spend my free time. And I have a ton of free time. That's it.

Futhermore, I'm kind of fascinated by the topic of will-power in general, and specifically my inability to program myself like I might be able to program a computer. But that's more of a fascination than indicative of a problem.

Now regarding your Startup Costs discussion, I like that quite a bit, and I can certainly relate to it. For example, I love playing weekly board games / card games with the right group of people. Since I'm new to Boston, I need to build this group back up from scratch. And unfortunately I'm picky about who I play games with: I want fun nerds that are strong, competitive players but at the same time charismatic and entertaining to play with. I know I have to slog through many failed meetups or bad matches before I find the right players. When I'm healthy I'm able to make these long term investments. But in my stress-induced funk, I've been totally unable to to pay any Startup Costs.

Maybe there's two categories of activities:

"funk" activities: play games, watch youtube, watch netflix, read sci-fi, browse reddit, talk to my fiance, eat Ice Cream

"Startup Cost" activities: make new friends, develop a board game group, work out, find a PhD program, find a 9-5, eat Chicken and Broccoli

The Akratic app was an attempt to kick myself from the funk internet-based activities over to activities with Startup Costs. But instead I just moved to the next funk activity on the list.

I think my cycle is already starting to break, fortunately, as a result of having resolved the three most stressful things on my plate: 1) my sister's messy breakup, 2) my legal/relationship trouble from the failed startup, and 3) my cousin trying to crash our wedding. I even had a medical emergency in there from an infection that I had to go on antibiotics for.

Anyway I actually don't have a single game that I need to go cold turkey on. I've certainly heard of people with WoW addictions etc who would need this advice. Like this past week I'm playing RimWorld, but next month it'd likely be something different.

The fact that I'm starting to post on the ERE forums again is actually a good sign. C40 told me something in private once that I hope he doesn't mind me sharing: he liked when I disappeared from the ERE forums for a bit because it used to give him hope that there's life after the pursuit of ERE. And sometimes he's right, like when I was hiking the AT I was too busy to post much. But more often when I've disappeared it's been because the ERE forums are kind of on a hybrid list for me, half-way between funk and productive, and when I'm in a true funk I can't be bothered.

One thing I know from my past funks is that they are often followed by periods of unusually high productivity. And one of the only upsides of my single-mindedness is that it can lead me to be remarkably effective provided I can get the single-mindedness trained onto something actually useful, such as the pursuit of ERE.

I need to find some more things that are similar to ERE in scope:
- difficult enough to consume my full attention for a few years
- but achievable enough that I can envision actually finishing them
- and meaningful enough to actually impact my life in a positive way

Some things I've got that might fit that description:
- get a PhD (5 years)
- build a tiny house (1 year)
- live in a sail boat (1 year)
- this is vague but: find some way to help non-profits in a technical way (5 years)

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by BRUTE » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:45 pm

akratic wrote:I'd also spend another $100k on "ability to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night".
what has akratic tried? early morning sun therapy? evening dark therapy? melatonin? diets? sounds like an easy $100k :D

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akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:10 pm

BRUTE wrote:what has akratic tried? early morning sun therapy? evening dark therapy? melatonin? diets? sounds like an easy $100k :D
Haha, akratic likes brute's style. :)

Here is the core sleep problem: if my brain gets going in the middle of the night it cannot be stopped. It'd be like trying to fall asleep while jogging. It might start up at full speed at 3am and keep going all the way until the sun rises when I give up and just get out of bed. I can write papers in my head, I can write code in my head, I cannot turn my brain off.

My primary defense has been to try to avoid waking up even once after I fall asleep.

tried and helps: sleeping mask, max decibel box fan for white noise, large bed to keep fiance away

tried and probably helps (not sure): regular bedtime, natural light in the morning, darkness in the evening, avoid using the bed except for sleep, avoid using electronics near bedtime

tried and failed: meditation, ear plugs

not tried:
- any drugs (don't like drugs)
- I haven't tried a diet specifically for sleeping, but I've tried many different diets over the course of being bad at sleeping without any noticeable difference
- physical light products outside of just natural sunlight

I think what I really need to award the $100k is not just marginal improvement in waking up less, but the ability to turn off my brain. As things currently are I can fall into the following nasty cycle:

Loop {
- stressed about something, so I don't sleep and become tired
- tired from not sleeping so can't solve the original problem, so stressed
}

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:53 pm

I recommend trying the meditation again. When I was in college and was getting into weightlifting, I read a 3-page chapter in a weight-lifting book about meditating while falling asleep. I tried what it said and within a few days I was sleeping deeper and better than I would've thought possible before. That meant not waking up until the morning. The type of meditation the book described was not the normal "sit and think about nothing", but more like self-hypnosis while drifting off to sleep. (The book was called "Keys to Progress" by John McCallum. It's not worth paying for the book for this information though because it's so simple, and is a tiny bit of the book)

Another recommendation: Daily and intense exercise. Enough to make progressive improvements in either your strength or cardio-vascular capability.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by FBeyer » Tue Aug 23, 2016 5:16 am

akratic wrote:...I haven't been able to recreate my favorite parts about being in school on my own:
1) being surrounded by smart people who had lots of free time
2) having this simplified set of tasks -- do problem sets, write papers, ace tests, get internships -- and an objective and simple scoring mechanism for them regulated by someone else: A, B, C, D, F. I loved optimizing this game, writing the best paper in the shortest amount of time or learning the material extremely well but extremely quickly and thus freeing up the rest of my time for whatever I wanted.
3) believing that what I was doing was working towards a better future for myself. That if I just succeeded in jumping through these hoops my life would get better.
4) living in the same shitty dorm rooms as everyone else. After graduating when some of my friends started trading most of their time away to live in fancypants mansions, it became harder to see them because they spent so much time working and even moved cities to get higher salaries, and it became harder to pretend we had a lot in common as they made choices so alien to me.




Now as for another part of your question, the bit about will, let me try an analogy with food...
My will is fine for a lot of things, but totally inept in some strange domains like video games and internet use. I could never choose to play or browse for 3 hours and then stop. I just keep going.

===
... But to answer your actual question without books, without internet, with nothing: I can't do it. You'd have to reach into the deepest parts of my programming and find some fundamental parts of me, like the part that is always striving, always reaching for more, always trying to figure out the next goal, and you'd need to gut these parts...Honestly it just feels like an empty suggestion, like telling someone who is struggling with money issues: "Have you tried just getting infinity dollars? Then you could buy anything you wanted."



...For example, I love playing weekly board games / card games with the right group of people....unfortunately I'm picky about who I play games with: I want fun nerds that are strong, competitive players but at the same time charismatic and entertaining to play with.

...Here is the core sleep problem: if my brain gets going in the middle of the night it cannot be stopped...

tried and failed: meditation...
... but the ability to turn off my brain. As things currently are I can fall into the following nasty cycle:

Loop {
- stressed about something, so I don't sleep and become tired
- tired from not sleeping so can't solve the original problem, so stressed
}
The more you post, the more you sound like me.
Down to the uncontrollable monkey brain, the sleeplessness if someting catches on in the middle of the night(#), the exact boardgame group needs, the unproductive habits and the constant need to do something productive instead.

I've cited several of your posts because they highlight some of the similarities between us that caught my attention and because I want to address them specifically.

>>> Going back to school:
Going back to school to do a PhD is NOT going to reproduce that feeling of college IMO. The PhD is vastly different from any former encounters with university. There is much more of a workplace atmosphere and you're surrounded by all the science-weirdos who are not only singularly focused on their topic, stressed out about articles and obscure science, but they're nothing at all like the kind of board gamers you're looking for, say. You have your expertise withint the PhD topic in common, but other than that it's a crap shoot whether you'll find people to bond with. I advice that you try to recreate the 'feeling of school' in a more fragmented manner. For one thing, you're much older than your fellow students (I'm 34 and doing a PhD, the age difference is telling) and given that you react to stress in unproductive ways, you should remove as much crap from your existence as possible while recreating the school feeling. Honestly, the PhD-lifestyle-without-university is EXACTLY the kind of existence I'm trying to manufacture for myself given FI/ERE/freedom to do so.

1) Have you ever visited the stackexchange websites? PLENTY of incredibly talented people with plenty of free time to talk about physics, finance, math, statistics, world building, religion, cooking, programming... you name it. Spend some time answering questions on the SE site that best corresponds to whatever topic you're learning at the moment and you should be able to get your 'gaming fix' on as you get badges, ranks, and reputation on an actual useful site.

2) Makes no sense to you anymore, does it? Why would you impose tasks upon yourself, tasks you can optimize, to free up more free time, when your entire existence is made up of free time? You seem to need some structure in your life, not tasks to optimize. In other words: You're really bad at being bored, a very useful skill to have :)

3) Odd again. You seem to want to be 'lied to'. You already did something that gave you a better future didn't you? Maybe you're still coming down from worklife expectations and you're temporarily replacing it with something distracting rather than face head on why you need distracting in the first place. Here's a topic for you to work on to give yourself a better future: Learn to relax. It's an acquired skill; I know because I f***** suck at it, but I'm slowly getting there. Being in shape is a better life for yourself. Being an independent individual leads to a better life for yourself. Being an attentive SO leads to a better life for yourself (too). There is no shame in needing structure in your existence after achieving FI. There is only shame in lying to yourself about your true needs throughout your life.

4) You need a social circle and you probably need to realize that, now, you won't find very many completely kindred spirits, but almost every kind person you meet along the way will fill some of your social needs. If there is an ERE community around you might bond with some, but there is no guarantee you'll appreciate the hypothetical ERE people more than the board gamers you might meet.(*) University/college is probably a very convenient structure in the same way the military is. You have to get up, jump though hoops, do ridiculous things and to a large extent you're all equal while you're there. Your yearning for school sounds to me (maybe because I'm projecting so strongly right now) like my own situation when I found out that I was in fact very extroverted, but I'd been surrounded by assholes my entire life. All of a sudden there were all these people with whom I had a lot in common and it was great to hang out with them all the time! Now, I miss them all dearly, 'cause they've gone off to become over-worked consultants or what have you and that social gap in my existence is grating.

(#) If I, for any reason at all, think about playing roller hockey or weightlifting; I'm fucked! My body reacts tangibly to those two topics.

(*) In fact I don't think I'd like a lot of the people on these forums in person(**), in spite of enjoying the online conversation very much! :D The medium through which we communicate is very important in the same way that someone might be an amazing colleague but not a good friend. If you can apply that 'filter' to your social circles and realize that you're getting different needs covered different places you should be good.

(**) And I wholeheartedly expect the possible disconnect to be mutual.


>>> Food analogies
There are several stages of understanding:
1) Intellectual understanding; I know I shouldn't smoke. I'm smoking anyway.
2) Emotional understanding; I feel like every smoke is money out the window, hurting my health. I feel like shit after I've smoked.
3) Personality; I'm not a smoker. Why would I be? It would take work to start smoking.

You're at the intellectual understanding of your optimization/gaming 'addiction'. If you don't feel that you should do something about it, it will not, and cannot happen. The emotional stage might be very short in some instances and you go very quickly to someone who: reads, exercises, flosses etc.
The trick, it seems, to get through the emotional stage to the personality is to set up a SYSTEM, not GOALS, that get you where you want to. The intention to work out will not get you there, but as soon as the develop a real, tangible habit of always getting water, kettlebells and magnesium ready in the morning so that you can work out in the afternoon, you're much closer to being a 'person that works out' rather than someone with a goal of getting fit.

The system does the work for you, not your intentions of getting there. Now THERE is something for you to tweak and have a go at. Invent systems for yourself. That should cover the gaming, the structure and your life goals all in one.

Maybe you should also just learn to chill in the same way that you probably learned to do complex analysis at some point? :)
Saying you can't relax because you'd have to break something fundamental inside you feels to me like hearing some grade school mouthbreather claim that he\she can't do math because he\she isn't wired for it. If you're a driven person, you can drive yourself to learn to chill. If anything it seems like one of the most life-changing things you could teach yourself. But if you are in fact anything like me, you'd probably lie there on the couch and wonder to yourself what you are then, if you're not someone who 'get motherfucking shit done!'. The catharsis is worth it. If nothing else, then to learn how to make a conscious decision to become a different person, and then actually become that person. If you monitor your work efficiency like I do, you'll notice that doing nothing is one the best ways to increase productivity! Then you'll overdo it like I did and burn out, but we'll address that in another journal entry :D




>>> Meditation and sleeplessness
Meditation is frequently misunderstood 'not thinking about anything', when in fact is a mental tool that sharpens your own reactions to stress, sleeplessness, and frustration. Learning to meditate is incredibly difficult for me, but I can tell when I'm giving it my best because it bleeds over to my entire existence. Meditation is for the mind what proper weight lifting is for the body; you might find excuses, but they're not doing anything for you but keeping you back. Meditation WILL teach you how to properly react and file away stress and focus on what you should be doing, that is what meditation IS!


I have here the best way to make sure you sleep well at night:
Make sure you meditate regularly, have plenty of sex, get plenty of exercise. No TV/ipad/computer one hour before bed time.
By all means shirk/delegate responsibilities to make sure those three areas are sufficienty covered.

Waking up in the middle of the night and speculating about things is PRECISELY the kind of 'suffering' that Mindfulness meditation addresses. Millions of people around the world have that same vicious cycle of thoughts as you do, it seems to be endemic to humans. There are people who know how to teach you how to break out of that loop. Don't be alarmed that all the weak armed hippies are doing it, you should too. Everyone should IMO...

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:56 pm

Another thing I thought of - in trying to improve your sleep by getting yourself to not ever wake up at night, I think you're not addressing the root cause, and efforts to just sleep all night without waking are never going to fix your problem. You know that the cause is your mind running away with thoughts. What have you tried to better control that?

There are very simple things like these, (I imagine you know about them or have tried them), but I'm sure you could figure out more aggressive/useful things than this:
- Keep a running "To do" or "actions" list. When you come up with something you need/want to do, get it written down. Regularly check the list when deciding what to do and to mark things complete
- Keep a notebook nearby (at night, next to your bed) - when you wake up with some new ideas/thoughts, write them down. Get the important parts written down and believe that you'll be able to think about this just as clear the next day
- Practice intentional tranquility. I guess this is similar to meditation.


Ok, hope this isn't too cheesy or too far down the wrong path:


On Tranquility: I imagine that, as a guy, you've had a number of times where a woman asks you what you're thinking, and the answer is basically nothing. This happened to me the other day in Seattle. I was on a girl's couch who I'd been spending some time with. We were kissing and she seemed a little nervous, so I asked her about it. A bit later she asked me what I was thinking. I said I was really attracted to her and glad that I was there and enjoying kissing her, and that I wasn't really thinking about anything else. The next day she said at that moment on the couch she had a ton of things rushing through her mind, and that she was initially a little judgemental about the "not thinking about much of anything" part of my response. Maybe her initial interpretation was that I was simple-minded. What I should've clarified better was that I was just relaxed and was enjoying the moment and it made me tranquil enough to not have to be thinking about anything else.

I'm sure you remind yourself this, but: you're rich, you have (AFAICT) a great partner, you have control over your time/energy/thoughts/location. You're in a shangri-la, a golden age of life. You have the important benefits of a successful life and you still have your youth/health.

What I've been trying to describe is what I'd call the "skill of tranquility". Things like happiness and tranquility don't just happen only in certain conditions, they are things you do. For example: even when you recognize things aren't all as good as they could be, to remember what you have and that those things are worth being thrilled and content over. Not thinking: "I have all these successes, I should be happy/relaxed/whatever, damn it!" but more of a "ahhh yeah, I have some issues to sort out, but I'll get around to taking care of those... I have nothing to really worry about". I know this isn't the type of "thought issues" you described that keep you up at night, but I think the skill of tranquility works on both of these types of "thought issues".

It's interesting that you have an Akratic (or maybe "lazy") mind in certain ways, but also that you get so strongly focused on doing or improving something that it keeps you up. It sounds like your thoughts/brain power just needs a little better guiding/directing. And hey - controlling and directing your thoughts/energy is a skill too.
....You'd have to reach into the deepest parts of my programming and find some fundamental parts of me, like the part that is always striving, always reaching for more, always trying to figure out the next goal, and you'd need to gut these parts. If you succeeded and were truly left with something -- I can't really call this me, it'd be so foreign
Ok, the advice I'm trying to give feels like the same type you were replying in your post containing the above quote.... I want to emphasize that the following are skills and habits, they are not [/i]who you are.[/i]
  • * Tranquility is a skill.
    * Doing what you know you should is a skill.
    * Controlling what you think about and directing your energy how you wish is a skill
You're obviously already working on the 2nd one by making and using that app. But don't limit yourself with your own assumption (the one quoted above). If I understand right, you're basically wishing that certain parts of your 'deepest programming' were different, but believing that you can't change them. Well, you're capable of becoming a master in these skills. I DARE you to.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Noedig » Sun Oct 02, 2016 3:07 pm

Akratic. How goes the internet/gaming addiction. If you are seated at the PC 24/7, at least give us an update :-). Hopefully you are elsewise occupied.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Augustus » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:19 pm

akratic wrote:
tried and failed: meditation, ear plugs

not tried:
- any drugs (don't like drugs)
- I haven't tried a diet specifically for sleeping, but I've tried many different diets over the course of being bad at sleeping without any noticeable difference
- physical light products outside of just natural sunlight
You said you tried meditation, but I'm curious what you tried. If your thoughts are out of control, then (in my opinion) by definition you have not actually meditated. The act of meditation is the act of regaining control of a runaway mind. There is a lot of woo out there, but I have found focusing on inhalation and exhalation of your breath, to the exclusion of all else, for an extended period of time is pretty much a guarantee of sleep. The hard part is getting back in control of your own mind to the point where it no longer wanders, which takes practice. I'm not a religious person, but below is a common definition of the technique.
Samadhi is "single pointedness of mind," or concentrating the mind on a single sensation or thought-object to the point of absorption.

The late John Daido Loori Roshi, a Soto Zen teacher, said, "Samadhi is a state of consciousness that lies beyond waking, dreaming, or deep sleep. It's a slowing down of our mental activity through single-pointed concentration."

In deepest samadhi, absorption is so complete that all sense of "self" disappears, and subject and object are completely absorbed into each other.
Also, don't dismiss melatonin out of hand. Your body makes it when exposed to sunlight. As you age your body makes less. That is why older people often sleep less.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by _JT » Sun Oct 09, 2016 1:17 am

Augustus wrote:
akratic wrote:
You said you tried meditation, but I'm curious what you tried. If your thoughts are out of control, then (in my opinion) by definition you have not actually meditated. The act of meditation is the act of regaining control of a runaway mind. There is a lot of woo out there, but I have found focusing on inhalation and exhalation of your breath, to the exclusion of all else, for an extended period of time is pretty much a guarantee of sleep. The hard part is getting back in control of your own mind to the point where it no longer wanders, which takes practice. I'm not a religious person, but below is a common definition of the technique.
Meditation is much more about acceptance than control, as far as I've learned. Unless that's a semantic distinction.

---------------------

akratic: going back a few posts (which is maybe a few months), you made a comment about lasting a long time in a room with books or video games, but if it's just sitting silently you "can't do it". My impression reading that was that you believe you are fundamentally incapable of this, and I think you're mistakenly operating from a belief that sitting still is an inborn trait. It isn't. That's why people talk about working on a meditation practice -- the act of learning how to live with the stillness takes decades.

Also consider this: your preferred activities when you have free time are all forms of escapism*. The past is done; never to return, and the future has not and may not ever happen. The only time that truly exists is the present moment. When your present is filled with distractions, worry, and/or anxiety, it's essentially sacrificed. My guess is, if you think back on the times you felt most at peace on the AT, they were times where you were completely present in the moment. I experience that presence a lot more backpacking than when I'm sleeping indoors, because backpacking necessarily strips away most of the distractions. There's a reason Buddhists do walking meditation.

*I don't mean for this to be a criticism; merely an observation. After all, I just spent two hours reading this whole thread. And half of my day watching netflix when I could have been working on my tiny house.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Dave » Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:58 am

_JT wrote: Meditation is much more about acceptance than control, as far as I've learned. Unless that's a semantic distinction.
There are many types of meditation that involve varied techniques and with varied goals. What Augustus described (samahdi) is "concentration" meditation, the goal of which is to develop single-minded concentration on a mental object. This can be an end goal, or is often used as a tool to develop the mind's ability to concentrate which is useful for other forms of meditation (and really most anything). There are also meditation techniques whose goal is acceptance, as you said, but it's not the only type.

I wish I had something to add in regards to meditation and sleeping, but I have not tried to use meditation to aid in sleeping.

I have had a sleeping issues myself over the years, but they have substantially improved through a variety of techniques. While I don't believe this whole book is relevant to your situation, Akratic, I found it very useful in my own life in improving energy. Part of that was improving my sleep. The book is called The Depression Cure. Worth checking out for anyone with low to severe levels of depression, or anyone who struggles with energy.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Augustus » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:11 pm

Yeah I should probably clarify, I agree that there are many kinds of meditation. Some are non judging/acceptance, some are more about concentration, I'm sure there are lots of others I haven't dabbled in. That said, the one thing I think they all have in common, is regaining control of a runaway mind. For me at least, my default state of mind is usually worrying about things that either have already happened or wont ever happen (planning for eventualities), and rarely spending time in the present. Letting go of those thoughts and exiting my autopilot state of mind (regaining control in my terminology) is extremely liberating, and things like samadhi are useful for actually getting some peace and quiet in my head. I usually start out with 10 minutes of samadhi to clear my head of unreal thoughts, and then switch to some other type of meditation.

Anyways, back to topic, samadhi for sleep is a godsend for me. I often have a runaway mind before sleep, one thought leads to another and another, I often have my most creative moments before sleep and write stuff down sometimes. Other times I really need to sleep, so samadhi with a focus on my breathing is like a 20 minute knock out cure for sleep when I'd otherwise lay awake for hours.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by James_0011 » Fri Nov 25, 2016 9:51 am

Hi akratic,

Regarding your sleep issues, have you ever heard of a man name ray peat? He has some unconventional dietary views that have helped my sleep and life a ton. You seem like the type of person that would be open to his ideas - many people dismiss him right away mostly due to his writing style, and ideas outside of the mainstream.

Anyways, if your interested you can checkout his website. I can also send you some info if you want.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by LiquidSapphire » Fri May 19, 2017 7:26 pm

Just wanted to say Hi! Popping in after a long hiatus and reading up on what you've been up to, as you are one of my ERE role models. :)

Sorry to hear you've been having a hard time... the only thing I have to add is... it seems like you're stuck in decision paralysis. You resolved your stresses, presumably? And your biggest stress is not knowing what to do.

What about just picking something on your list?
If it sucks, then you just pick something else.

You don't have to analyze everything to death to pick the best thing. You've been doing that foreeeever.
Just pick Something. Anything.

hopefully this helps or is stupidly outdated advice and you're living the life of your dreams. :)

LS

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by fiby41 » Fri May 19, 2017 11:13 pm

What are your favourite games anyway

At this point I could use some suggestions.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by FBeyer » Fri May 19, 2017 11:53 pm

fiby41 wrote:
Fri May 19, 2017 11:13 pm
What are your favourite games anyway

At this point I could use some suggestions.
There are separate topics on this. You could start a new one and I'll be happy to talk board games until the cows come home.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by fiby41 » Sat May 20, 2017 8:15 am

FBeyer wrote:
Fri May 19, 2017 11:53 pm
fiby41 wrote:
Fri May 19, 2017 11:13 pm
What are your favourite games anyway

At this point I could use some suggestions.
There are separate topics on this. You could start a new one and I'll be happy to talk board games until the cows come home.
I was referring to video games but thanks.
FBeyer wrote:
Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:21 am
akratic wrote:...

Coming back to the job hunt question, I think my true lifestyle preference across all the adult years of my life would be, in order:
1) student at university
2) on an adventure I was excited about
3) 9-5
4) playing video games all day
5) entrepreneurship

This makes me think I should get a PhD and not a 9-5 at all.
...
I have to be an ass and ask you this then: If you'd really like to study, why aren't you studying now that you have the time rather than play video games "against your will"?
Noedig wrote:
Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:48 am


Re Gaming addiction: I have similar problem, but I tend to time out gaming after two hours and go tackle a task list somewhere, so it's under control.
_JT wrote:
Sun Oct 09, 2016 1:17 am
---------------------

akratic: going back a few posts (which is maybe a few months), you made a comment about lasting a long time in a room with books or video games, but if it's just sitting silently you "can't do it". My impression reading that was that you believe you are fundamentally incapable of this, and I think you're mistakenly operating from a belief that sitting still is an inborn trait. It isn't. That's why people talk about working on a meditation practice -- the act of learning how to live with the stillness takes decades.
Now that you mentioned it I realise that I maybe so lonely AF that I need people my age willing to play board games with more that I need board games. Cue: being alone but not lonely forum thread.

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